The New Year and Health Resolutions

I would like to wish you all a very Happy New Year.  Among all the resolutions many of us make, losing weight and eating healthier usually top the list.  I am no exception, since I am not one to deprive myself of the food and drink I love during the holidays.

And while eating healthier is always preferable, a detox cleanse diet is not the best approach during the winter months.  As an Herbalist and Holistic Esthetician my goal is to be in balance within myself and with nature and I recommend this to my clients as well; a healthy body means healthy skin (remember our skin is our largest organ). For me, as the seasons change, the foods we eat, the herbs we use change too. If you live in a cold climate like I do, winter is a time for rest and nourishment.  This includes more sleep, meditation, and nutrient rich foods.  Juicing and eating cold foods like salads are counter intuitive to what our body needs.  Doesn't it make sense to eat the foods that are in abundance this time of year,?  Root vegetables for example. And doesn't it make sense to prepare foods by using methods such as braising, soups, stews, roasting? 

Whereas in the summer we naturally want lighter foods, cooling foods and who wants to turn the oven on for hours and braise a roast or veggies when it is 90 degrees outside?

Here are some tips for getting back to a healthier you this winter:

  • In addition to root vegetables, add other seasonal veggies such as winter squash and leafy green. 
  • If you eat meat make sure it is grass fed and add bone broth to your diet.
  • Limit sugar intake and when you do use a sweetener make it raw local honey or maple syrup
  • Use warming herbs and spices.  Sip some Chai
  • Take time out to rest, meditate.
  • Take a bath with relaxing herbal bath salts

We can still get on track by gently detoxing and eating healthy this winter and save the cleansing/ juicing for the Spring.  After all, both Dandelion and Nettles are the first spring herbs and probably the best detoxifying herbs. If we look to nature, she has the answers.

Tea Time

Let me start off by saying I am a coffee lover.  It is part of my morning ritual.  The aroma fills the house and gets me going.  I love that first sip.  BUT as fall approaches I think about cocooning in the evening with a cup of hot tea.  Through the dark winter months there is nothing more soothing, warming and nourishing to my soul than a cup of herbal tea. Of course herbal teas are so much more than that.  I will discuss different herbs and there healing properties in future posts.  Last fall I started experimenting with different blends.  My husband who has never been a tea drinker accepted a cup one evening of my Night Repose blend that I created using Chamomile, California Poppy, Oatstraw, Skullcap and with a touch of Rooibos.  He told me the next morning it was the best nights sleep he had in a long time.

We also love to drink a chai spice with astragalus, cocoa and turmeric.  Not only is it delicious, it is a great for your immune system. So I am now making my Night Repose tea blend and Chai Spice available at my studio.  I will be adding other tea blends in the very near future and don't forget my elderberry syrup kit to fight cold and flu.

 

So make yourself a nice cup of tea, sit back and relax!

An Ounce of Prevention

Flu and cold season is just around the corner.  If you are like me, you prefer to find a natural way to prevent yourself from getting sick, or if you do lessen the severity of the illness.  Which is exactly what my husband and I have done for the past few years.  Each year in the late summer/early fall I make a batch of Elderberry Syrup and take some each day.  I have not gotten sick (knock on wood) and my husband felt like he was coming down with a cold last year and increased his dosages.  He felt better within 2 days.

“Recent research from Israel and Panama has demonstrated that elderberry juice (Sambucus nigra) not only stimulates the immune system, but also directly inhibits the influenza virus (Zakay-Rones et al 1995; Mumcuoglu 1995)."  Paul Bergner, Herbalist.

If you would like to try and make your own syrup this is my favorite recipe

ELDERBERRY SYRUP

Ingredients:   2/3 cup dried elderberries,  1 cinnamon stick,  1 tsp -1 tbs ginger root,  1 cup raw local honey (you can add more or less depending on your taste)

Place all the ingredients in a pot, except honey, add 3 cups water.  Bring to a boil.  Reduce heat, cover and simmer for 30-45minutes.  Smash the berries and strain.  Add1 cup Raw honey and brandy.  Refrigerate.  Will last 2-3 months.

Take 1 tbs daily to ward off illness or a tbs every 2-3 hours if you are sick.  For children use half the dose.

Optional Ingredients:

Brandy, Astragalus, Echinacea, Orange Peel, Cloves

Note: Please use only raw honey and add the honey after cooking...heat will destroy the important enzymes in the honey.  I would also recommend not replacing the honey with any other sweetener as honey has it's own healing properties.

                                                                                          Elderberry syrup simmering

                                                                                          Elderberry syrup simmering

Do you have a favorite recipe for Elderberry Syrup or any other cold and flu prevention ideas.  Please share and here's to a healthy season.

The Truth About Antibacterial Products

Finally, after 30 years of sitting on a ruling the FDA announced that unless manufacturers can prove that antibacterial soap is safe and more effective than using soap and water it will have to be removed from shelves by 2016.

For those of you wondering what is wrong with antibacterial products here are some facts, the ingredient in these antibacterial products, Triclosan can:

  • They can create antibiotic resistant strains of bacteria - The World Health Organization calls it "a threat to global health security"
  • Some studies have found that, in animals, triclosan appears to interfere with the body's regulation of thyroid hormone.   If this is the case in humans, too, there are worries that it could lead to problems such as infertility, artificially-advanced early puberty, obesity and cancer.
  • It may cause allergies
  • It is harmful to the environment.  It is still found after going through sewage plants and has been detected in streams and other bodies of water where it disrupts alga's ability to perform photosynthesis.  
The bottom line is using triclosan as an antibacterial wash is really no more effective than good old hand washing with soap and water according the the Center for Disease Control...just use soap and wash for about 30 seconds...singing the alphabet song if you like.

The bottom line is using triclosan as an antibacterial wash is really no more effective than good old hand washing with soap and water according the the Center for Disease Control...just use soap and wash for about 30 seconds...singing the alphabet song if you like.

 

In my skin care practice and when I make my skin care products I never use any product or  ingredient that may harm humans, animals, or the environment and many like myself have been fighting long and hard to get these harmful products off the shelves.  So a small victory but a victory nonetheless.

How The Right Foods Can Keep You Cool Pt 2. - Some recipes

To follow up last weeks post I thought I would share with you some of my favorite Pitta summer recipes.

VICHYSSOISE  (cold potato leek soup) makes 4 servings

While this is not generally found in classic Ayurvedic recipes, all the ingredients are and it is one of my personal favorites for a hot summer evening coupled with a salad.

  • 1 tbs butter or ghee
  • 2-3 leeks
  • 5 potatoes peeled and cut into chunks
  • 5 cups water or chicken broth
  • pinch of thyme
  • chives for garnish
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1/4 cup organic grass fed half and half or whipping cream

In a large stock pot melt butter over low heat. Add leeks and cook for 10 minutes or until translucent . Add potatoes and season with salt and pepper. Add thyme and stir well and continue to cook for 12 minutes.

Add  water or chicken stock and bring to a boil, reduce heat and cook, partially covered for 30 minutes.

Puree soup in blender or food processor and cool.  When cooled add cream and sprinkle with chives.

COCONUT RICE  makes 4 servings

I like to make extra and eat it for breakfast. I then add some blueberries and almonds.

  •  2 cups  jasmine or basmati white rice, rinsed
  • 1 cup good-quality coconut milk (not "lite")
  •  2 cups water
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 2-3 Tbsp. dry shredded coconut, unsweetened or sweetened

Place rice in rice cooker. Add the water, coconut milk, salt, and shredded coconut. Stir well (use a plastic or wooden utensil to avoid scraping off the non-stick surface). Cover and set to cook.

Once your rice cooker switches to "warm" mode, allow another 8-10 minutes for rice to finish "steaming". This will ensure your coconut rice is fully cooked and pleasantly sticky.  Gently fluff.

For breakfast heat with additional coconut milk or water and add blueberries and nuts  and pinch of cinammon and cardamom  may be served cold.

Hope you enjoy!  Please share your favorite recipes.